26. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones, 310 pages, read by Brian, on 03/19/2015

graveFirst Grave on the Right is about Death.  I mean the person who sees dead people and takes them to there rightful place after they die.  Charley Davidson, is such Death, a grim reaper if you will, who moonlights as a private investigator. She is kind of lazy, smart-ass, and a heart of gold as she solves the murders of the recently deceased.

 

26. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal

Pale Demon by Kim Harrison, 439 pages, read by Brian, on 03/18/2015

paleKim Harrison is a wonderful writer, her books are interesting, funny and suspenseful, Pale Demon is no different.  Rachel Morgan is condemned by the witches society for using black magic.  She has three days to travel across country to prove her innocence and not be sent to the demons.  Travelling with a vampire, elf, pixie and other assorted creatures trying to kill her, this shouldn’t be a problem at all.  Should it?

 

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, 333 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/04/2015

station eleven  This novel set in the future explores what life would be like for the survivors of a world-wide pandemic. Part of the story takes place in the characters past when the illness was just starting, part takes place in their current time and other sections take place in the characters memories of their own past. This may sound confusing but the writing and the way the chapters are organized makes the story flow smoothly. The survivors past lives interconnect in an interesting way and the inclusion of a story within the story set in a graphic novel is unique as well. The novel explores the different ways people react to the same circumstances and how their decisions affect all those around them.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Carousel Sun by Sharon Lee, 336 pages, read by Kira, on 03/22/2015

Cover-Carousel-SunThe second book in the Carousel saga.  Though the stakes aren’t as high as in the last novel, I still found this a very enjoyable read.  2270482292_d35dac85e7_z 'Swamp Dweller' merman painting, Jade GengcoKate’s bad neighbor is still running drugs, and seems to have found another Ozali to help him evade the police.  One of the things I like about Sharon Lee’s writing is that she doesn’t spell things out for you, you have to figure things out on your own.  I finally  Scenics_coastal_waters_and_landmassrealized what had become of the bat-winged horse – though the clues had all been there in the previous book.  I also love the way Kate needs to assert herself, if she wants things to develop between her and Borgan.  I’m waiting to see what happens to the other escaped carousel animals in her next book – Carousel Seas.SeaWitch4  Lee also manages to capture the magic of riding a carousel.dragon_0011d39076ffdcd3feb85e89ebbab63c5c7Wild-Cats-Carousel-947741Carousel-4

22. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah, Mystery

Small Favor by Jim Butcher, 423 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/22/2015

I am already a fan of Jim Butcher’s writing, and Small Favor is one of the even better stories. The wizard for hire, Harry Dresden, is caught up in a fast-paced adventure from the very first pages. Fae from the court of the Summer Queen begin attacking Harry while he is training his apprentice. Though it is unclear why Summer Fae are after his blood, Harry has upset enough of the Summer royalty to make some pretty good guesses. The Winter Queen appears to be helping the harassed wizard, but her help comes unsolicited and at a very high price. This is all a sideline to the main plot and problem of the tale. Fallen angels, known as Denarians, have come up with a plan that may make it possible for them to bring about the destruction of the world. By kidnapping a little girl known as the Archive, who is receptacle of all written knowledge, the Denarians would be able to wreak massive damage. Harry Dresden must evade the wrath of the Summer Court, neutralize the “help” of the Winter Court, and fight a handful of fallen angels with god-like powers.

Small Favor is book #10 in the series the Dresden Files. Each book in this series has its own plot arc and resolves by the end. However, the characters are well written, well developed, and return in most books. The familiar characters and plot elements which cause character growth make it more enjoyable to read the books in order. I would recommend the Dresden Files to any fantasy reader. Butcher uses tried and true fantasy creatures and adds in new ideas, also. He also has a nice mesh of fantasy and modern crime, since the main character works as a detective specializing in missing items. I would caution, though, that the first book has a very slow start. The series is worthwhile if given a chance.

21. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mariah, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

Doll Bones by Holly Black, 244 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/19/2015

Three friends, Zack, Alice, and Poppy, play an imaginary game that seems to have all the best elements of fantasy. Making their own rules and using action figures, they write adventures that span weeks, months, and years. However, when Zack’s fathers decides Zack is too old for games with girls and dolls, everything changes. Zack is so angry and hurt that he handles the matter by refusing to deal with it. He tells Alice and Poppy that he no longer wishes to play their pretend epics and shuts himself off. The girls are hurt and bewildered. Then, late one night, Poppy and Alice show up at Zack’s window. Poppy has been suffering from evil dreams in which one of the dolls visits her. The doll, known as the Queen, claims she was made from the bones of a murdered child, and she will not leave them in peace until they bury her body in the proper place. Not knowing whether they really believe, the children set off on a dangerous adventure.

Children’s horror is not an overly populated genre, but Holly Black enters it with style and skill. The tale picks up quickly and keeps pace throughout the book. Revelations regarding the nature of the children’s changing relationships are woven seamlessly throughout the drama of being terrorized by a ghost. Dealing with the changes of life and maturity can be almost as frightening as supernatural events. In the end, the book was never too scary, too ridiculous, or too boring. I would recommend it to an older child, probably around middle school, who enjoys horror.

20. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy

Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer, 195 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/17/2015

annihilation  Book one of a trilogy. Annihilation is set in Area X. An area cut off from the rest of the continent for decades that has been reclaimed by nature. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

Now the twelfth expedition is entering Area X. This group is made up of four women, an anthropologist, surveyor, psychologist a biologist. The biologist is our narrator and the psychologist is the leader of the group. Their mission is to map the terrain, collect specimens, record all their observations of their surroundings and one another. And most importantly avoid being contaminated by Area X and watch for signs of contamination in others.

This mystery/adventure story is wonderfully written. The text moves you along quickly and pulls you right into the world of Area X. It is different to read a whole novel and never learn the characters names or much about what they look like. This first book brings up lots and lots of questions. I checked with other staff who have finished the trilogy and some questions are answered but not a lot. If you can enjoy reading for the way it is written and pondering about the mysterious of life and our universe then this is for you. If you need solid answers by the end of the series, skip this one.

 

19. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee, 432 pages, read by Kira, on 03/19/2015

Carousel Tides Carousel-Tides-shirt5-outlined I almost gave up on this book, while reading the first chapter – but if you persist it gets better, way better.  The protagonist Kate has returned to the beach town in Maine where she grew up with her Gran, her Gran who runs the carousel, her Gran who has disappeared for several months now.  Kate had pledged herself to be a Guardian of the Land, but after she misused the power of the Land and a friend got killed, Kate fled the land, awaiting a slow death (by breaking away from the land).  This is a magical and inventive world, with a great backstory, that slowly gets filled in, as the narrative unfolds.  I’m really glad to have discovered another fantasy author like this!IMGP1751

19. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah

A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds, 205 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/18/2015

Finch Noble pulled a pot of boiling water down on her face when she was a toddler. This left her face horribly disfigured. As she grew up, she found that other children were either scared of her or made fun of her. To escape from this treatment, Finch pulled away from society and played in the cemetery where her parents were caretakers. As Finch pulls further away from society, she finds she can speak to the ghosts of the cemetery. Among the specters, she finds friends enough to support, encourage and complete her. Finch does not feel that her life is lacking in any way. Throughout the book, though, Finch finds herself pulled into the drama of human lives. A local Baptist do-gooder has decided Finch is her next project. A local police officer, who has also never felt right in his own skin, takes an interest in Finch and tries to heal old wounds and create a friendship. Then there are the ghosts who are working through the problems they did not resolve while alive. As Finch helps others, both the dead and living, she begins to heal herself.

19. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah, Teen Books

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien, 362 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/16/2015

Gaia is a teenage girl who is pushed into an adult world, with adult problems, when her parents are suddenly arrested by the Enclave. This coming of age story is set in a dystopian future where global warming (called the cool age) has already scarred the Earth and several generations of survivors have hashed out a new way of life. Gaia follows in her mother’s footsteps as a midwife for a group of outsiders who live an archaic life. Bakers, carpenters and weavers are at odds with technological leftovers like movie theaters. Gaia’s life is fairly happy, despite that fact that the Enclave requires that a percentage of all babies delivered be “advanced” to the Enclave. These children are adopted into Enclave families. Though they will never see their birth parents again, it is considered a privilege because the children will go on to live rich, fulfilled lives. Gaia has no qualms with the situation until the evening her parents are arrested with no warning or explanation. As she begins to investigate, Gaia discovers a less savory side of the Enclave and starts questioning the rituals that have always been a part of her life. Leaving behind a prosperous job and the safety of ignorance, Gaia sets off to rescue her parents.

Birthmarked is neither the best, nor the worst, teen dystopian I have come across since the explosion of popularity in the genre began. The protagonist, Gaia, is a bit annoying in her blind devotion followed by startlingly sudden and inept actions. However, most of the characters are likable and the plot is simple and clear. It is an easy and fun read.

18. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Zoo at the Edge of the World by Eric Kahn Gale, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 03/14/2015

Marlin is a stutterer and has a lot of problems communicating with people. He has no problems talking to the animals in his father’s zoo however. Marlin’s dad is the famous adventurer Ronan Rackham and he created The Zoo at the Edge of the World in the Amazon jungle. The Zoo attracts wealthy tourists from Europe who come to see the amazing jungle animals and wild circus. Ronan’s latest capture is a jaguar the locals believe is a man-eater. Marlin is drawn to the jaguar and one evening while he is talking to it the jaguar talks back. Suddenly, Marlin can hear all the animals talking and they can understand him as well. This comes in handy when he has to save the zoo from his tyrannical, bullying brother, his crazy father and the scheming duke who is trying to encroach on the jungle.

I was intrigued by the premise of a zoo in the jungle during Victorian times. It is an interesting and plausible idea as the world was expanding for people during that time. Adventurers were discovering parts of the world never before seen by Europeans. I also liked the idea of a Marlin learning to deal with his communication problems and the fact that he is bullied by his brother. Talking animals I can do without, mainly because I thought it took away from the reality of the rest of the story.

18. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, 416 pages, read by Angie, on 03/17/2015

Feyre is the youngest daughter of an impoverished merchant. She is the sole provider for her family. When her mother died she charged Feyre with taking care of her older sisters and her father and Feyre has tried to fulfill that promise. One day when she is out hunting in the forest she shoots a wolf. Turns out the wolf was a shapeshifted faerie and she has to pay for his life. She is whisked off over the wall by Tamlin, High Lord of the Spring Court. Hundreds of years ago there was a war between mortals and fae that divided the world. The fae courts stayed behind the wall in the north and the mortals were relegated to the southern most part of the island of Prythian. Recently the fae have been venturing beyond the wall and attacking humans. Feyre finds life in the Spring Court different from what she expected. Tamlin and the other faeries treat her with respect and she is better fed and clothed than she has been in years. She finds herself falling in love with Tamlin. But things are not right in Prythian. There is a blight on the land that seems to be spreading and endangers both fae and humans alike. Feyre has the power to stop the blight if only she would realize it.

I am a big fan of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series so I was really excited when I saw this new series. A Court of Thorns and Roses is a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a different twist. Maas has gone back to the old story of Beauty and the Beast, but instead of a troll queen we have an evil faerie queen. The beauty is a mortal girl and the beast is a faerie prince. It is a fabulous story with a fabulous set of characters. My only little quibble is that it is marketed as a teen book, but it has some fairly sexy sex scenes with a bit more detail than teen books usually have. Didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book, but I might be a bit hesitant to give it to younger, more innocent teens (not that I don’t think they get more graphic information elsewhere). I can’t wait to see where this series goes as this book wrapped most of the storylines up pretty nicely; although there is a nice twist at the end.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me read the ARC of this book. I loved it!

18. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

No Flying in the House by Betty Brock, Wallace Tripp (Illustrator), 157 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/17/2015

Most little girls have parents to take care of them, but not Annabel Tippens.She has Gloria, a tiny white dog who talks and wears a gold collar. Annabel never thought it was strange that she had Gloria instead of real parents. Until one day a wicked, wicked cat named Belinda comes to tell her the truth — she’s not just a little girl, she’s a half-fairy!
And she can do lots of things that other kids can’t do, such as kiss her own elbow and fly around the house. But being a fairy isn’t all fun and games, and soon Annabel must make a choice. If she chooses to be a fairy, she’ll have to say good-bye to Gloria forever. How can she decide between her newly found magic and her dearest friend?

From Goodreads.com.

17. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop, 400 pages, read by Kira, on 03/09/2015

Third novel in the series called the Others.Vision-in-Silver-The-Others-3-Anne-Bishop Scenics_coastal_waters_and_landmass  This book focuses less on Megan’s personal journey and more on the larger macro relationships.  The one exception to this is the focus on Officer Montgomery, the police officer transferred to Lakeside because (back in the first of the series) he shot and killed a human in order to save the life of an Other.  I like that they continued the story-line of what had been a fairly minor character.  I like that we get an expanded view of the less-seen 125779491_11n abstract blue dark smoke digital art 2560x1440 wallpaper_wallpaperswa.com_22 m.courtyard.rough.SMOthers. Can’t wait for the next book!

12. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Lost Children of the Far Islands by Emily Raabe, 288 pages, read by Angie, on 03/09/2015

Gus, Leo and Ila live with their parents in Maine. They have a pretty idyllic life until their mother gets sick. She deteriorates rapidly and suddenly the kids are whisked away to a grandmother they don’t know on a remote island. Their grandmother is the Morai, an ancient being who protects the world from the evil Dobhar-chu. She is also a selkie, a shape-shifter who can go between the human and seal shape. Gus, Leo and Ila are also shape-shifters. Because Gus and Leo are 11 they are taught how to change shapes. Ila is too young to shift, but seems to be gifted in that she has a third shape of a fox. With their mother fading and their grandmother old and weak, the kids are the only ones left between the world and the evil of the Dobhar-chu.

I really enjoy books that delve into different cultural mythologies. There are books about selkies, but you don’t see a lot for this age group. I liked that even though the book deals with the mythology of selkies it doesn’t specify the culture they are from or directly point to a specific culture. I liked the kids a lot. Gus and Leo are twins but very different. The star of the show was little Ila though. She doesn’t speak for the first 5 years of her life and it is only after the mom falls ill that she starts to talk. It turns out she is also the most talented of the family in regards to shifting. She is a fierce little thing and quite entertaining. This is a great stand alone book for fantasy fans.

09. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman, 208 pages, read by Angie, on 03/09/2015

Twig has a secret, a secret that means she keeps her distance from everyone. She lives with her mother in the town of Sidwell where Johnny Appleseed gave her family a rare pink apple. Her mother’s pink apple recipes are famous. Twig has no friends her age, but immediately likes Julia when her family moves in next door. Her mom doesn’t want her to be friends with Julia however. It seems that 200 years ago their family was cursed by a witch who just happens to be Julia’s ancestor. The curse is that every male member of the family is born with wings. Twig’s secret is her brother James who has been hidden his entire life because of the wings on his back. James is getting tired of hiding though and starts leaving the house more and more often. Twig and Julia become determined to somehow break the curse and start researching their ancestors for the answer.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. I enjoyed the story and thought it was really interesting, but I also thought it lacked something. There isn’t a lot of character development for pretty much everyone except Twig. There is a whole plot line involving saving the woods from development that seemed like an after thought to get a character into the story. I also thought the ending was just a little too perfect. Even though magical realism is not really my favorite thing I did think it worked fairly well in this story.

I received this book from Netgalley.com.

06. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale , 323 pages, read by Angie, on 03/05/2015

The Forgotten Sisters is the final book in the Princess Academy trilogy. It picks up after the events of Palace of Stone. Miri and the other girls are ready to head back to Mount Eskel. Miri can’t wait to see her family and become betrothed to Peder. Just as she is about to leave she is summoned to the king and asked to go to Lesser Alva and train three royal cousins to be princesses. War is coming to Danland and the only way to prevent it is to offer the enemy king a bride. Miri heads off to the swamp expecting to find a much different situation than she does. The three sisters live in an empty stone house; they are not educated; they have no concept of what it means to be royal. Once their mother died their support dried up and they are forced to spend their days hunting for food in the swamp. Miri takes up the challenge to get the girls ready for their debut in Asland. This involves more than teaching the girls to read and write; she must also figure out a way to get their allowance back from the unscrupulous headman of the village. Unfortunately, war comes before the girls are ready and they are not safe even in the swamp backwater where they live.

Every time I read one of these books I remember how much I like Shannon Hale’s writing. I could not put this book down. I loved getting to see Miri on her own in an unfamiliar situation. The swamp offered a great background to the story as Miri learns to catch caimans and survive in the mud and the muck. I liked the royal cousins, but didn’t think they were developed as well as they could have been. Miri is really the focus of the story as she teaches the girls how to survive as princesses and she learns how to survive in the swamp. I actually loved the ending of the book and really didn’t see the twist coming. I had other ideas about the girls that ended up not being true. I thought the ending really suited the spirit of this series and wrapped up the characters’ stories really well.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Sojourn by R.A. Salvatore, 309 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/16/2015

Far above the merciless Underdark, Drizzt Do’Urden fights to survive the elements of Toril’s harsh surface. The drow begins a sojourn through a world entirely unlike his own–even as he evades the dark elves of his past.

In this 3rd and final book of the trilogy, Drizzt leaves the Underdark for a life on the surface, or so he hopes.  At first, he again lives the life of a hermit and although the sun makes it difficult for him, he is determined to find his place in this world.  He eventually meets a blind Ranger, who befriends and teaches him what he needs to know about his new world.  Drizzt comes to the conclusion, with some help, that not all deities are bad, and that living the life of a Ranger is what he is meant to do.  Although tragedy dogs him through the first part of the book, he learns his way and finds the place he is meant to be.

A very good conclusion to the trilogy, in my opinion.  While it does leave open the chance for his character to appear in other Forgotten Realm books, it was finished in a satisfactory manner.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole series and recommend it to anyone.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder, 223 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/04/2015

A magical breadbox that delivers whatever you wish for—as long as it fits inside? It’s too good to be true! Twelve-year-old Rebecca is struggling with her parents’ separation, as well as a sudden move to her Gran’s house in another state. For a while, the magic bread box, discovered in the attic, makes life away from home a little easier. Then suddenly it starts to make things much, much more difficult, and Rebecca is forced to decide not just where, but who she really wants to be. Laurel Snyder’s most thought-provoking book yet.

Description from Goodreads.com.

05. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Exile by R.A. Salvatore, 343 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/11/2015

 “As I became a creature of the empty tunnels, survival became easier and more difficult all at once. I gained in the physical skills and experience necessary to live on. I could defeat almost anything that wandered into my chosen domain. It did not take me long, however, to discover one nemesis that I could neither defeat nor flee. It followed me wherever I went-indeed, the farther I ran, the more it closed in around me. My enemy was solitude, the interminable, incessant silence of hushed corridors.”

In this second book of the trilogy, Drizzt decides that his only way to escape his family and the dark elves way of life, is to live by himself in the depths of his underworld.  He is afraid to interact with any others he meets, until he comes to the realization that he is slowly becoming that which he hoped to avoid.  He decides that he needs to reverse this by hoping that if he goes to the dwarven city and living with whatever fate they decide for him.  He had saved the life of one of them and wants desparately to find out if he is the good person he wants to be.  After living with them for a time, he and his companions learn that his mother has sent someone after him, to try and appease their goddess. Drizzt then decides that he needs to set out again, hoping to outrun his heritage and his mother’s determination.

I enjoyed this book, as much as the first, and it was much faster to read, maybe because the tempo of the book was not as much set up and explanation as it was actual action.  You get to really feel for Drizzt and the fate of his life.  It’s easy to see parallels in real life, to compare what people you know have overcome to be the people they want.  A very good read if you enjoy fantasy settings.